Violence among persons diagnosed with schizophrenia: How pharmacists can help

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Violence among those diagnosed with schizophrenia has been reported but is not a diagnostic component of the disorder. The position of the courts regarding fulfillment of the requisite intent to commit violent acts has not been extensively reported. This article discusses the impact of a diagnosis of schizophrenia in an individual and how the pharmacist can help integrate information into the health care system. The recent Supreme Court case of Clark versus Arizona and the older case of Patterson versus Cockrell are discussed with respect to the concept of intent (to commit the act) and the implications this has on an individual in the midst of a psychotic episode. Quality of life, the perception of the stigma associated with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and pharmacotherapy are briefly discussed. The origin of schizophrenia is multifactorial. Persons with schizophrenia are not innately violent, but alteration in perception may precipitate aggressive acts. Given the complex and diverse nature of schizophrenia and the fact that even with successful pharmacological treatment residual symptoms may still be present, there is a need to provide information to health care practitioners and the court.

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